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Art

Grim picture for national gallery without funding

Paa- ya-Paa Gallery
An exhibition at the Paa- ya-Paa Gallery. One of the oldest creative art spaces. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Over the past six decades there has barely been more than just a sprinkling of creative art spaces in the country and many of these have closed their doors to the public within three to 10 years of operation. The earliest recorded galleries popped up in Nairobi in the 1960s. They included Sorsbie Gallery, New Stanley Gallery, Chemichemi Cultural Centre, Gallery Africa, The East African Wild Life Society, Gallery Watatu and Paa-ya-Paa Gallery. By early 1970s they were all gone — with the exception of the latter that today stands as the oldest gallery in Kenya.

In the last article, the authorship provided light on the importance of conserving our rich creative heritage and hence the need for a national art gallery. The fleeting existence of local galleries and their closures in almost the same measure is discernibly daunting and persists to date. Factors responsible for this occurrence are pegged on lack of funding and an unsustainable local art market.

Therefore in discussing the establishment of a national art gallery of Kenya, questions on who will fund the project and how it will be funded become paramount.

The sources of funding could well be the basis on which the public takes or rejects ownership of a project. As in the foregoing examples of local art galleries, the sources of funding can determine whether the activities of the national art gallery will remain sustained, fully actualised and operational. So then, should the funding of a national art gallery be a state project, a privately funded project or a public private partnership?

Since the arts are fundamental to the humanity, prosperity and posterity of Kenyan citizens, this matter should be of national interest, with the key stakeholder being the central government of Kenya.

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Additionally several other factors point to the significance of the arts, making a national art gallery an attractive investment proposition. The arts spark creativity and innovation which in turn boosts production and consumption.

It is scientifically proven that students with an education that is rich in arts have higher grade average.

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